The “Godzilla Galaxy,” otherwise known as UGC 2885, dwarfs the Milky Way, hosting 10 times as many stars. Image: NASA, ESA, and B. Holwerda (University of Louisville)
The largest spiral galaxy in the local universe could well earn the nickname “Godzilla Galaxy,” astronomers say, thanks to its truly gargantuan size. The galaxy, UGC 2885, is 2.5 times wider than the Milky way and hosts a trillion stars, 10 times more than Earth’s galactic home. UGC 2885 is located some 232 million light years away in the constellation Perseus.
Despite its enormous size, the galaxy is a “gentle giant” with roughly half the rate of star formation as the Milky Way and a “sleeping” supermassive black hole that appears to be starved of in-falling gas.
The late astronomer Vera Rubin (1928-2016) studied UGC 2885, measuring its rotation. The results provided key evidence for the existence of dark matter. Benne Holwerda of the University of Louisville in Kentucky used the Hubble Space Telescope to capture a stunning image of the galaxy, in part to honour Rubin.
“My research was in a large part inspired by Vera Rubin’s work in 1980 on the size of this galaxy,” he said. “We consider this a ...